There do not seem to be as many moths and butterflies this year. Of course, that is not an observation backed by scientific data. So I was pleased to see this field crescent (Phyciodes pulchellus) when Leonard and I were walking the Elkins#2 Pond Loop at Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Modoc County CA).
Field crescents are found in mountain meadows from Alaska to Mexico and east to Western Kansas.
This small butterfly has wings that are mostly brownish-black with yellow, orange and white bands or spots. Ventrally the wings are a pale orange and yellow-brown with very little or no dark brown. Field crescent caterpillars are black with a white lateral band containing red-brown speckles and faint white subdorsal lines. The caterpillar’s head is black.
Field crescent adults are diurnal. Caterpillars overwinter halfway through the larval stage.
Members of the Asteraceae (aster family) are caterpillar hosts. Adults drink nectar from various plants.
Over time this pretty little butterfly had many species and subspecies names, including Phyciodes campestris. Even today there is disagreement over its classification. No matter what its scientific designation, this colorful butterfly is a delight to observe.